Updates at the State House

Rick Martin - Contributing Columnist
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Now that the regular 2018 legislative session has come to a close, I would like to update you on things happening at the State House, and in our community.

Telephone Privacy Protection Act Becomes Law

Our anti-call spoofing bill, formally known as the Telephone Privacy Protection Act, was signed into law during a ceremony at the Newberry Opera House. After a long battle, it is now illegal for a call solicitor to use a South Carolina area code unless they have a physical presence in the state. Consumers are now able to report spoofed calls to the Office of Consumer Affairs, and if prosecution is warranted, the Attorney General’s Office is empowered to pursue scammers to the fullest extent of South Carolina law.

To report spoofed calls, call Consumer Affairs at 1-800-922-1594.

Legislature to Return June 27 to Decide Utility Questions

The legislature adjourned regular session for the year on May 10, which means that no new bills can be introduced until January, and all bills not passed, with some exceptions, are defeated. This includes Constitutional Carry and our Agricultural Property Tax Reform Bill, among others. Legislation having to do with the V.C. Summer nuclear disaster passed both chambers and is now in conference committee to resolve differences between House and Senate versions. This includes provisions to repeal the Base Load Review Act, to create a utilities consumer advocate in the Office of the Attorney General, and to temporarily reduce SCE&G customers’ rates. The legislature will return on June 27 to review and decide based on the committee’s reports.

Statewide Primaries June 12

The Republican and Democratic primaries will be held Tuesday, June 12 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and early voting is open until June 11 at 5 p.m. This election will decide each party’s nominee for offices for which a party has more than one candidate on the ballot. On the Republican side, this includes governor, attorney general, secretary of state and two non-binding advisory questions:

Do you believe that voters should have the option to choose to affiliate with a political party when they register to vote or change their voter registration in South Carolina?

Do you believe that South Carolina’s tax code should be brought into conformity with the new Trump tax cuts in the federal tax code for maximum simplification and to lower the overall tax burden on South Carolina taxpayers and businesses?

On the Democratic side, the primary includes governor, and U.S. House Districts Three and Five, since Newberry County is shared by two congressional districts. There will also be two non-binding advisory questions:

Do you support passing a state law allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients?

Do you support passing a state law requiring the governor of South Carolina to accept all federal revenues offered to support Medicaid and Medicaid expansion efforts in the state?

To view your sample ballot and check your voter registration and polling place, visit scvotes.org.

2017-18 School Year Ends, Retirees Honored

Congratulations to Newberry County’s Class of 2018, and all our local graduates! Best of luck in all your endeavors. To our teachers, thank you for another great year, and for your dedicated service to our community’s children. To this year’s 26 district retirees, thank you for your years of commitment, and God’s blessings in your retirement. If I may be of service or assistance to any of you, please don’t hesitate to call me.

State Superintendent Question on November Ballot

On the last day of session, the Senate approved a House resolution to amend the state constitution, to make the State Superintendent of Education an office appointed by the governor, beginning in 2023. The proposal will go before voters for approval this November.

Definition of Litter Expanded, Fine Reduced

The Governor has signed a bill expanding the definition of litter to include cigarette butts, and reducing the fine for littering less than 15 pounds from $200 to a range from $25-$100. The definition of illegal dumping now includes animal carcasses, and fines for this crime range from $200 to $500. In addition to a mandatory fine, penalties must also include litter pickup or community service for a minimum number of hours.

Unemployment Reaches 17-Year Low

The state Department of Employment recently announced that South Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.2 percent, the lowest since 2001.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives!

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Rick Martin

Contributing Columnist

Rick Martin is the State Representative for District 40 – Newberry County.

Rick Martin is the State Representative for District 40 - Newberry County.